-finished the new production ‘Paradise’ for Jody Watley tonight – complete with strings arranged and played by the one n only Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (official) – Ms Watley’s new EP of the same name (Paradise) will be out soon and has a second production also by me called ‘Dawn’ – with drums by NZ’s Frank Booker. soon come! our first virtual collaboration was when i did the keys for Phil Asher’s Restless Soul remix of ‘Photographs’, followed by my own remix of Jody’s ‘Midnight Lounge’ for The Makeover. We followed that up with ‘Tonight’s the Night’ on Strictly Rhythm Records… it’s a pleasure to be keeping the collaboration going! — with Jody Watley.
“Paradise is basically a party record created and inspired in classic soul dance records in many ways..a celebration of feel good music, with lyrics that make you feel like getting out, or turning up the volume in your car. Paradise is about living life and creating special moments today with music as the motivator, the backdrop. I’m very much about that – to remind people of that. There’s enough time to worry and other heavy things. In these songs I want everyone to feel an sense of escape and joy from beginning to end. Paradise is about the celebration of being alive and having a good time – especially for my core diehard fans who have been with me no matter what and no care that I’m older. They know I’m still fabulous and so are they!” – Jody Watley
‘Paradise’ – with co-production by Mark De-Clive Lowe, Count De Money, Soulpersona and Luminodisco.
I believe I’m still a rebel in many ways — always on my own path no matter what. You can’t break new ground if you stay in the box. It’s common for artists to do fashion layouts now — in the early days of my solo career, it was not. I pushed to be in these magazine because my Mom always had fashion magazines in the house. I remember seeing Beverly Johnson, Iman and later Naomi Campbell. I wanted to do that – there was no black artist at the time who was being featured like this. I’m proud to have quietly made it acceptable and coveted. This was my second feature of 3.
Jody Watley. Harper’s Bazaar November 1991. Photographed by Andrea Blanch
Harper’s Bazaar, November 1991. Interview:
Love Interest ” A lot of people think love songs don’t count,” says Jody Watley. “There’s a feeling that of you’re not singing about the homeless or the environment, you’re not singing about anything that matters.: But, the stunning dance diva explains, “The environment at home is what we bring into the world and we need to look at that before we can solve our other problems.” On her new album “Affairs of the Heart”, Watley is trying to weave her social concerns into the kind of infectious love songs that have filled two platinum albums and won her a 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Watley wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on ‘Heart’ and also tried her hand at executive producing for the first time. “Win or lose, this one is my baby. Since her early days in the 80’s trio Shalamar, Watley’s reputation has rested on a rebellious fashion sense and a taste for up-tempo,, sexy grooves, but this album marks a shift in emphasis to more sophisticated ballads. She claims the change was inspired by the charming ultranontraditional version of Cole Porter’s “After You, Who?” she contributed to last years Red, Hot and Blue AIDS charity project. “I think I hadn’t challenged myself enough before that”, she says. “Now I’m trying to grow up as an artist.”
This more refined sound is also reflected in a more glamorous look. Just as she sees her love songs as an opportunity to for social commentary, Watley considers style a reflection of something more lasting that the latest fashion. “I passed a high school the other day,” she recalls, “and the kids outside looked terrible, like they had no pride in themselves. I think it would be great if they had someone they looked up to who had a classic quality, because they’re the next generation, and if their minds are anything like the way they’re dressed, we’re in trouble.” With “Affairs of the Heart”. Jody Watley may become our first role model. – Alan Light
Original lead of Shalamar Gerald Brown finally got to experience the fabulousness that is “Giorgio’s” this past Saturday on Easter weekend. If you’re not totally familiar with Gerald and you call yourself a Shalamar fan – get the knowledge, because “Take That To The Bank” is one of the groups signature hits. We were in the group together when I was a teen. Back then was always protective and someone who tried to teach about this business, contracts, etc. Through the years, he’s come out to support and let me know how proud he is of me. A devoted and loving father, Gerald is in town visiting his daughter whose son is having surgery. Of course I told him “You must come to Giorgio’s!” A major portion of the video was filmed there, so it has an additional significance beyond being my favorite place to go dance and enjoy classic disco and funk. We also were able to celebrate the success of “Nightlife” which made it into the Top 5 Urban UK at #5 and Top 10, at #6 Commercial Pop. “Nightlife” also made it to the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles to begin 2014. A special thank you to Bryan Rabin, Adam Bravin the Giorgio’s family and my best friend Wallace for making the evening extra special. It’s in the music!
Nightlife-ized. Jody Watley and Gerald Brown – two Shalamar originals. Design: Ray Easmon.
The title song “Paradise” is written with the brilliant and diverse Mark De Clive-Lowe. For my die-hard fans, you’ll know this isn’t the first time we’ve collaborated. If you missed it, check out my release “The Makeover’ for the Midnight Lounge (MDCL remix) as well as Mark De-Clive Lowe featuring Jody Watley on “Tonight’s The Night.” The title song “Paradise”, thanks to Mr. De Clive-Lowe will also include a splash of strings by the one and only Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Mark and I also collaborate on “The Dawn”, another dance-floor gem from “Paradise.” I can’t tell you how happy I am and I want you all to feel it too. It’s in the music!
Jody Watley. DETAILS Magazine, Music Issue July 1992
‘Affairs of The Heart’ era. The artists had to give a quote about ‘underwear’ – in my case a basic white tank top- which remains a staple in my wardrobe.
“If you’re just making a fashion statement without making a difference, that’s a travesty. As artists, we all have to assume responsibility for the messages we send out. I like to make statements in my underwear it has a touch of the rebelliousness that’s always been present in music.”
My twitter timeline went all abuzz just before I was heading out to dinner with one of my best friends Christos Garkinos last night. He’d dealt with the loss of another of his longtime closest friends for 30 years – a difficult time is an understatement. Cathy had sadly lost her hard fought battle with cancer.
There’s nothing like good fine, a quality rose’, laughter and honest talk to keep life grounded.
The first thing I read before heading out was that Jennifer Lopez acted as if she didn’t know who “Jody Watley” was after Ryan Seacrest gave ’80’s Icon Jody Watley’ some love. My first reaction of course was: The nerve. The shade. The disrespect. Girl please. This was the consensus in my timeline. After all, homage was paid to me in a shout-out in one of Jennifer Lopez songs my fans had made me aware of sometime ago “Hold You Down” with Fat Joe..a formula that Eric B and Rakim and I had successfully blueprinted as a major crossover multi-format single in 1989, I’d add. How can anyone be a judge on these shows and not know a cross section of music and origins – typical I’d say as well when it comes to black artists. I did reply with a short tweet – with a link here to the site which is full of info for those who need to ‘learn it’ – decades of it!
Anyway, after a great time at dinner, always putting and keeping life in perspective, Christos and I had a wonderful time. It was nice to see him smile and eat – he hadn’t eaten much in the past week. By the time I came home, another best friend (my longest, nearest and dearest Wallace Butts) watched the show said it wasn’t that bad and he’d retracted his post on the Idol Facebook page. He conveyed it was in the context of hoop earrings — the judges were confused. Seacrest sang a bit of of one of my numerous hits, (not including those with Shalamar) “Don’t You Want Me..” to blank stares from the judges panel. Whatever. I always look to the bright side of things and know who I am, what I’ve done and continue to do – even when others don’t. The bright side is Ryan Seacrest did say my name on his show – and it got people talking, although I’ve never been one to court controversy and sensationalism. Often that is the name of the game. I was glad I didn’t go on a full blown Twitter rant. This is a lesson to everyone. Always take a step back and never react until the facts are in when it comes to negativity in particular – and then still count to 10!
Enjoy Life. A few favorite quotes come to mind-Keep what is useful, and discard what is not. No one can ever make you feel inferior without your permission. Define yourself for yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Life is short – live to the fullest, appreciate yourself, your family and friends.